What is Line Balancing

Line Balancing is leveling the workload across all operations in a line to remove bottlenecks and excess capacity, defined by Six Sigma Material.

When you consider mass production, garments are produced in lines or set of machines instead of a single machine. A line may be an assembly line, modular line or section, a line set with online finishing and packing. One line includes multiple workstations with varied work contents. Production per hour is varied depending on work content (standard minutes of particular task/operation), allocation of total manpower to a particular operation, operator skill level, and machine capacity. Operation with the lowest production per hour is called a bottleneck operation for that line.

A bottleneck operation in a line determines the output of the line. That is why it is very important to increase the production of bottleneck processes or operations.

Line supervisors, work-study officers find ways to increase production from the bottleneck operation and implement those means one by one to level work across operations. In layman language, this is called line balancing.

Secondly, Line balancing is essential because, if an excess capacity of sewing operators does not utilize production cost will be high and results in waiting and absorption of fixed cost.

Though the above definition is widely accepted, I saw a few factories where industrial engineers name line balancing to something else. At the time of machine/manpower planning based on the work content of each operation, they prepare a sheet where operation wise manpower is calculated.

Most of the cases calculated manpower gives a fraction of value but in reality, you can’t allocate to a fraction of manpower to an operation. So the manpower planner decides to which operations one machinist, to which operations two machinists or where only a single machinist will be allocated for two or three operations. The planner makes this decision based on the calculated data.

In the following Figure, production per hour of two lines has been shown. The following Line chart indicates that Line B is better balanced than Line A.

Line Balancing chart
Figure 1: Line Balancing Graph

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